On appeal from a Resolution and Order by the New Jersey Maritime Pilot and Docking Pilot Commission, Resolution No. 06-11.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 4, 2007
Before Judges Payne and Messano.
Captain Frank Boslet appeals from the final order of the New Jersey Maritime Pilot and Docking Pilot Commission (the Commission) that suspended his maritime pilot's license for a period of one year without pay. Appellant argues the length of the suspension violates legislative policy and was otherwise arbitrary and unreasonable. The Commission contends that the imposition of a one-year suspension was specifically permitted by regulation and was otherwise an appropriate exercise of discretion. After consideration of these arguments in light of the record below and applicable legal standards, we affirm.
The facts and procedural history leading to the Commission's determination are essentially undisputed. Appellant is a licensed, maritime pilot subject to the Commission's regulations adopted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12:8-2. In January 2005, he was arrested in Greenwich Township, New Jersey, for driving while intoxicated (DWI). At the time, appellant was on vacation and not scheduled to return to work until ten days after his arrest. In May 2006, he was convicted of the charge and his New Jersey motor vehicle driver's license was suspended for a period of seven months.
The Commission was unaware of these facts until late August 2006. On September 5, 2006, the Commission notified appellant by mail that it was immediately suspending his pilot's license for violating N.J.A.C. 16:64-7.14(a)3, which requires, among other things, that any pilot provide written notice to the Pilot's Association within twenty-four hours if charged with or convicted of DWI. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12:8-21, the Commission scheduled a hearing for October 5, 2006.
Appellant was represented by counsel at the hearing, and the essential facts that we have outlined above were admitted.
Appellant, who also held a pilot's license in the State of New York and a federal pilot's license issued by the Coast Guard, testified that he was unaware of the obligation to report any DWI arrest or conviction, particularly since the events in this case occurred while he was on vacation and had no connection to his duties.
The Commission produced two documents obtained from the Board of Commissioners of Pilots of the State of New York. The first, dated June 10, 2005, was a "Certification and Authorization," in which appellant certified to the New York Board that his "driver's license [had] not been suspended or revoked within the last [twelve] months," and that he had not been charged with DWI during that time. The second, dated June 9, 2006, was a similar document in which appellant certified again that his driver's license had not been suspended within the last twelve months because of a DWI conviction.
Appellant testified that he signed the two New York certifications believing he was only authorizing the release of his driver's abstract from New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission. He claimed that he did not read either form before he signed it.
At the conclusion of all the testimony, the Commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution and order that suspended appellant's pilot's license for twelve months, and ordered his participation in and successful completion of a substance abuse program. This appeal then ensued.*fn1
Appellant argues the twelve-month suspension of his pilot's license was excessive, contrary to the legislative policy expressed in the Commission's regulations, and otherwise arbitrary and unreasonable because it was based upon conduct other than that charged. He notes that the Commission has adopted other regulations that expressly address the consumption of alcohol as it ...